Friday, July 14, 2006

Supreme Court Sides with State in Dairyland Gambling Case

In a victory for the state's tribal casinos, a divided state Supreme Court today sided with the state in allowing tribal gaming compacts to stand. The court also overturned language in a previous decision that limited the state's ability to negotiate for additional games under the compacts.

In a 4-3 decision, the court ruled a 1993 amendment to the state Constitution does not affect gaming compacts between Indian tribes and the state. The court also said the state and tribes have the authority to expand gaming options when the compacts are renegotiated.

Writing for the majority, Justice Louis Butler said, "gaming can be expanded to the extent that the State and Tribes negotiate for additional Class III games."

Butler, who was not on the court the last time it heard the case, was joined in the majority by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and Justices Patrick Crooks and Ann Walsh Bradley.Justices David Prosser, Pat Roggensack and Jon Wilcox concurred in part with the majority, but also dissented in part.

In his opinion, Prosser called the majority opinion "far-reaching," and said it "could lead to could lead to an explosion of new gaming activities," including "such major gambling expansions as off-track pari-mutuel betting, betting on sporting events, jai alai, and all banking card games, which are barred by the Wisconsin Constitution but not prohibited by federal law."

Justice Pat Roggensack disapproved of the majority's move to overturn parts of a previous gaming decision, saying "the majority opinion surrenders the judicial independence of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to the Governor, thereby stripping the court of its claim to be an impartial decision maker."

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